WILMA October 2021

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WILMINGTON’S SUCCESSFUL WOMAN

2021

W O ME N TO WATC H AWA R D S MEET

THE

FINALISTS


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october 2021

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40

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8 SPOTLIGHT

54 THE SCENE: Way cool

10 TASTE: Double dipped

55 TAKE 5: Filling a food gap

12 HEALTH: Full-on fitness

56 MEN’S ROOM: Wonder women

15 STYLE: Talk of the town

Check out WILMA magazine here:

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/WILMAMAG


15 25 INTRO 26 ARTS 28 BUSINESS 30 EDUCATION 32 HEALTH 34 N ONPROFIT/ VOLUNTEER

WILMAmag.com

36 P UBLIC SERVICE 38 RISING STAR 40 W 2W AWARD JEWELRY DESIGNER

This month is all about WILMA’s annual Women to Watch Awards. Find out more about the thirty-six finalists in seven categories who made the cut this year in our special section that starts on page 25. Chris Brehmer photographed the finalists for a spread designed by Suzi Drake, inspired by The Brady Bunch and a vintage vibe. Drake also designed our groovy silhouette awards cover. Each year as part of our awards program, winners of the seven categories receive a custom-made bracelet designed for the Women to Watch Awards. Find out more about local designer Caroline Fisher who works with artisans in East Africa in the worker-owned cooperative Swahili Coast on this year’s bracelet (page 40). Special thanks to our group of outside judges who waded through all the nomination forms and deliberated to pick the finalists and winners. It’s a tough job every year because of the outstanding applications, and this year was no different. Stay tuned for announcements of this year’s winners after the awards event October 23 (W2WAward.com).W OCTOBER 2021

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Publisher Rob Kaiser rkaiser@wilmingtonbiz.com

CHRIS BREHMER is a Wilmington-

based photographer whose work has appeared in WILMA and the Greater Wilmington Business Journal. He specializes in portraits, corporate photography, editorial, and weddings. Brehmer photographed the thirty-six finalists for this year’s Women to Watch section, which starts on page 25. chrisbrehmerphotography.com

President Robert Preville rpreville@wilmingtonbiz.com Editor Vicky Janowski vjanowski@wilmingtonbiz.com Senior Account Executives Maggi Apel mapel@wilmingtonbiz.com Craig Snow csnow@wilmingtonbiz.com

MELISSA HEBERT has had her work featured

in national campaigns and magazines, including WILMA. Hebert studied photography at the Cleveland Institute of Art and specializes in editorial, portrait, and wedding photography. She photographed this month’s Gossip Girl-inspired style feature on page 15. melissahebertphoto.com

LAURA MOORE is an English professor at Cape Fear Community College in one of the top threerated English departments in the state. In addition to education, she has a background in public relations and journalism. Moore talks with Swahili Coast cofounder Caroline Fisher about the co-op on page 40 and Papercut Books owner Holly Bader on page 44.

DREWE SMITH is an editorial stylist and

creative director who specializes in photo direction and styling. Drewe is a Wilmington native and co-owns Drewe and Kate Branding Co., where she translates her love of design into branding photoshoots, logo design, and website building for a diverse collection of businesses. Smith pulled inspiration from the prep school world with her style feature this month on page 15.

TERAH WILSON is a Wilmington-based

freelance photojournalist with over sixteen years’ experience in photography and art. She is a mom of three, an artist, and an avid coffee drinker. Her passion is to capture everyday moments in a way that reveals the extravagance of life! Wilson photographed Really Cool Stuff organizer Andrella Christopher on page 54 and Cierra Washington for the Take 5 Q&A on page 55. terahwilson.com

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Account Executives Courtney Barden cbarden@wilmingtonbiz.com Sydney Zomer szomer@wilmingtonbiz.com Marian Welsh mwelsh@wilmingtonbiz.com Office & Audience Development Manager Sandy Johnson sjohnson@wilmingtonbiz.com Events Director Elizabeth Stelzenmuller events@wilmingtonbiz.com Events & Digital Assistant Jamie Kleinman jkleinman@wilmingtonbiz.com Design & Media Coordinator Molly Jacques production@wilmingtonbiz.com Contributing Designer Suzi Drake art@wilmingtonbiz.com Digital Editor Johanna Cano jcano@wilmingtonbiz.com Fashion Stylist Drewe Smith Contributors Tim Bass, Meghan Corbett, Nina Bays Cournoyer, Christine Hennessey, Laura Moore, Elizabeth White Contributing Photographers Megan Deitz, Madeline Gray, Melissa Hebert, Michael Cline Spencer,Terah Wilson Founder Joy Allen Subscribe For a one-year subscription, please send $26.00 (check or money order) to: WILMA, 219 Station Rd., Ste. 202, Wilmington, NC 28405, or call 343-8600 x201 www.WILMAmag.com


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CORPORATE SPONSORS

SUPPORTER SPONSORS Cape Fear Community College Cape Fear Habitat for Humanity Cape Fear Solar Systems Capt’n Bills Cavik Insurance Citrus Salon Coastal Aesthetics ILM Dr. Jennifer Pan Excite Credit Union Fleet Feet Sports Wilmington

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W2W UPDATES WILMA’s Women to Watch Leadership Initiative has updates to share as we continue to work on the effort’s core mission of helping develop more women leaders in our area. Here’s what we’ve been up to with various W2W Leadership Initiative programs and what’s coming up next: MENTORING: This month, the latest group participating in our mentoring program begins its yearlong term. In the program, twenty-five mentees work one-on-one with their mentors – leaders we have recruited from the community – for the next twelve months. Meeting monthly, they work on professional and leadership development while making new connections in the area. The mentees had to apply to be selected, and those who have participated in any Woman to Watch leadership initiative program in the past year were invited to apply. LEADERSHIP INSTITUTE: The class of thirty-two women in this year’s Leadership Institute met last month at Live Oak Bank to discuss the topic of strategic thinking with bank president Huntley Garriott and Stephanie Mann, Live Oak’s corporate strategy and development officer. During the September session, members also heard from representatives of The Forté Institute about their individual adapting style reports – a way to see how they are responding to recent changes and how that fits into communicating with teams at work. WILMA NETWORK: Members of the WILMA Network, made up of sponsors of the Women to Watch Leadership Initiative, meet monthly for 2nd Tuesday outings to welcome new members, catch up, and expand their networks. GETTING SOCIAL: Check out WILMA’s Women to Watch Leadership Initiative social media pages, where you can find the latest info about leadership program announcements, applications, and updates on women who have been involved with W2W. Follow us at facebook.com/WILMAsWomenToWatch and on Instagram @WILMAsWomentoWatch. - Vicky Janowski and Maggi Apel, Co-directors of the Women to Watch Leadership Initiative W2W@WILMAmag.com

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The Women to Watch logo: When you see this throughout WILMA’s pages, it means this is a woman on the rise to know, an experienced leader to learn from, or a local program worth checking out. W

10 INSIDE SCOOP: Kristen Bechtel dishes about Boombalatti's growth 44 PAGE TURNER: Holly Bader's spooky floral vibe at Papercut Books 55 NEIGHBORHOOD NEWS: Cierra Washington shares updates on the Northside Food Co-op

DIRECTORY

women’s professional groups Besides WILMA’s Women to Watch Leadership Initiative, there are a number of local groups to help women grow professionally. Here is just a sampling of some of them.

Cape Fear CREW Year Founded: 2010 Description: “Cape Fear CREW is the leading organization for commercial real estate in the Cape Fear region in North Carolina … Members represent every aspect of the commercial real estate industry, including, but not limited to, law, leasing, brokerage, property management, finance, acquisitions, and engineering.” Info: capefearcrew.org or info@capefearcrew.org

Cape Fear Women in Tech Year Founded: 2014 Description: “Our vision is to make the Cape Fear Region the No. 1 employer of women in technology careers per capita in the country. We do this by championing opportunities for women in technology, empowering women to strive for these competitive positions, and inspiring women to lead in those roles.” Info: cfwit.com or capefearwomenintech@ gmail.com

WILMAmag.com

Coastal Women Attorneys

The Junior League of Wilmington

(N.C. Association of Women Attorneys) Year Founded: 2013 Description: “CWA was formed to serve women attorneys in Southeastern North Carolina in the Fourth, Fifth and 13th judicial districts, which includes New Hanover, Pender, Brunswick, Columbus, Bladen, Duplin, Onslow, Sampson, and Jones counties. CWA is committed to increasing the participation of women attorneys in the legal profession, protecting the rights of women under the law and promoting, and improving the administration of justice.” Info: ncawa.org/cwa or cwa@ncawa.org

Year Founded: 1952 Description: “The Junior League of Wilmington is a women’s organization designed to empower women and to improve the community through the leadership of women as trained volunteers.” Info: jlwnc.org or info@jlwnc.org

The Inspiration Lab Year Founded: 2015 Description: “The Inspiration Lab was built for working women passionate about personal and professional development. We offer teachings and tools to improve your skills, productivity, creativity, emotional intelligence, and well-being. We also provide opportunities for networking and connection. We represent a variety of backgrounds and careers, but we’re all like-minded in being serious about success, maintaining a manageable work-life balance, and supporting one another’s growth.” Info: theinspirationlab.co

Women’s Impact Network of New Hanover County Year Founded: 2011 Description: “WIN is a collective philanthropy nonprofit that makes yearly grants to nonprofits within the county. The focus of these grants rotates annually among four areas: education, health and wellness, the environment, and arts and culture.” Info: winofnhc.org

YWCA Lower Cape Fear Founded: 1914 Description: “The YWCA Lower Cape Fear is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all.” Economic advancement programs focus on educational assistance, job training, and short-term and long-term planning skills. Info: ywca-lowercapefear.org

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photo c/o Wilmington Fire Department

STATION DOG GETS TO WORK

T

The Wilmington Fire Department recently launched a pilot program with the paws4people foundation to have a crisis response facility dog at the fire station off Eastwood Road. RHYS (pronounced Reese), who goes home after his shift with his firefighter handler, is part of the department’s mental health and wellness program, officials say. RHYS also provides comfort in emergency situations, both at the department and at the scene of an emergency in the community. RHYS was named in honor of Army Sergeant Rhys Klasno, who was killed during combat operations during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2007. paws4people was founded in 1999 by Kyria Henry Whisenhunt, a former WILMA Women to Watch Award winner.

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HARRIS JOINS HABITAT IN FUNDRAISING ROLE

CHRISTINA FERRIS was appointed Cape Fear Habitat for Humanity’s new development director. In the position, she is responsible for raising funds to provide affordable housing for families and individuals through the three-county Cape Fear region. Ferris, who has experience as a nonprofit leader, recently moved to Wilmington from Michigan where she worked in fund development, marketing, and public relations. Her background includes work in human services, health and fitness, hospice care, and the arts. She has experience with major gifts, development strategy, and grant writing and has led a variety of teams in planning and implementing awardwinning marketing campaigns, as well as managing large events that raised more than $235,000. Ferris, who graduated from the University of West Florida, is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. “I’m honored,” Ferris says, “to be part of this incredible organization and look forward to helping deserving families in the community experience the lifechanging opportunity of homeownership.”

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EMERGEORTHO NAMES NEW STATEWIDE CEO

One of the largest physician-owned orthopedic practices in North Carolina and the nation recently named a Wilmington resident its first statewide CEO. Currently the practice’s CFO, ALLISON FARMER transitions to her new CEO role this month. In June 2013, Farmer was hired as CFO of the practice known then as OrthoWilmington after the merger of Atlantic Orthopedics and Wilmington Orthopaedic Group. In 2016, OrthoWilmington joined with three other practices across North Carolina to form EmergeOrtho. Over the next five years, Farmer became CFO for several of the regions in the organization. As CEO, Farmer will lead a team of 1,835 employees, 484 of them in Wilmington. Of those, 288 are orthopedic surgeons and physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants. “(Farmer’s) leadership,” EmergeOrtho President Frank Aluisio says, “was especially evident last year when she helped guide us financially through the challenges of COVID-19, ensuring the group remained stable through those unsettling times.”

ant more WILMA? Check out our daily emails, which include even more profiles and stories for Wilmington’s successful women. To sign up for the free emails, go to WILMAmag.com

UNCW PROMOTES TUCKER TO DEPUTY AD

The University of North Carolina Wilmington recently named TIFFANY TUCKER as deputy athletic director. Tucker had served as senior associate athletic director and senior woman administrator at UNCW since January 2019. A former player on the UNC women’s basketball team and collegiate women’s basketball coach, Tucker has experience as an athletic administrator. “Tiffany is a superstar in college athletics,” UNCW Athletic Director Jimmy Bass says. “She’s a wonderful human being who brought an unmatched work ethic to UNCW. She is well-respected by Seahawk student-athletes, coaches, and staff as well as her peers throughout campus for her love of this great university. Her work on the CAA level has made our league better.” Tucker joined UNCW after serving as deputy director of athletics for internal operations and senior woman administrator at South Carolina State University. She also previously worked in athletic administration at Elizabeth City State University, Hampton University, and S.C. State. Tucker also coached basketball at Allegheny College, Radford University, Francis Marion University, and Claflin University. “I am humbled by the opportunity to continue to impact our students, coaches, and staff; we make a great team,” Tucker says. “I am fortunate to be a part of something so special and work with such passionate people.”

Have a suggestion for a local woman or group to spotlight? Email us: wilma@WILMAmag.com WILMAmag.com

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INSIDE SCOOP

BOOMBALATTI'S RAMPS UP ICE CREAM OFFERINGS by ELIZABETH WHITE photo by MEGAN DEITZ

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t was a good thing that two nine-to-fivers decided to trade in their laptops and conference calls and move to Wilmington. Why? The answer is simple – Boombalatti's. The local ice cream shop has become synonymous with the words Wilmington and dessert. KRISTEN and WES BECHTEL readily admit they had “absolutely no idea what the heck we were doing,” when they decided to open “Boom” as they now affectionately call their shop. The Pennsylvania natives decided to trade one climate for another. “We picked Wilmington off a map, moved here on a whim with little money and no jobs and have never

looked back,” Kristen Bechtel says. Wes Bechtel, who was a recent MBA graduate (and frequent consumer of ice cream since childhood) was looking to start his own business. In between conference calls and emails, he discovered one day that an ice cream shop was currently listed for sale online. And Boom! Boombalatti’s was born. The Bechtels’ world quickly went from being predictable to not. Kristen Bechtel easily remembers that first summer of business. “There were a lot of moments when employees came to us and said, ‘What do we do when …?’ You could easily insert everything that goes wrong owning your own business at the end of that question,” she recalls. But the couple persisted. Not only was starting a business for the first time daunting, but Kristen and Wes had to adjust their homemade ice cream-making skills for a much larger audience. “We had made ice cream at home, but in very small batches,” Kristen Bechtel says. “Figuring out how to scale those recipes and what worked and what didn’t work when it came to new flavors was a learning curve.” Speaking of flavors, Kristen Bechtel mentions their chocolate fudge brownie is probably their year-round bestseller, and peppermint stick is popular around the holidays. Personal favorites? For Kristen, it’s cannoli, and for Wes, it’s chocolate peanut butter fudge with a peanut butter shell. And, yes, they have had some not-so-favorites. “We did make a siracha peanut butter flavor once and thought it might sell. We didn’t sell a single scoop,” Kristen Bechtel says. With all their trials and errors now behind them, it is clear they are on the other side of things now. They have three locations, with about thirty-five employees for all three shops. Their Forum shop off Military Cutoff Road is the busiest of them all, so most employees work there. That 1,500-square-foot spot is expanding into neighboring space where Tama Tea used to be located, which will help Boombalatti’s


with more space for production and make about twice as much ice cream in the same amount of time. KATIE CRENSHAW, who has worked at The Forum location for three years, can attest to the success. “Kristen and Wes are both extremely devoted people,” she says. “They make running three ice cream shops seem easy, even with a line out the door most of the time.” EMMLIE OWENS agrees with Crenshaw. “It is nice that as owners they are still involved with scooping for customers and working events,” she says. “All the shops are doing well given the current state of the world,” Kristen Bechtel says. “During (initial COVID-19 shutdowns), we had to pivot and figure out how to continue making money to pay our employees.” So, they decided to deliver. “It was not easy, but we made it work,” Kristen Bechtel says. “Wes once delivered 300 pints in one day during COVID. The logistics of it were a disaster, but we survived. “We found Hampstead was supporting delivery more than any other area of town.” They ended up opening a shop there. Being a beach town, Wilmington has its fair share of treat options, a fact that Kristen Bechtel is very aware of. “Wes and I love food and dessert, traveling, and trying new things,” she says. “When we try a new dessert, we immediately think could we turn it into an ice cream?” Keeping up with the competition and following trends are always on their minds. Recently, the couple attended an ice cream short course at Penn State. “It was the same class that Ben & Jerry’s started out with,” Kristen Bechtel says. The ice cream entrepreneurs are always thinking about next steps, but for right now there is a pause. “We of course are always contemplating where the next Boom will be,” Kristen Bechtel says, “but no firm plans are in place.” They recently made a pact with one another to not entertain the idea for a solid 365 days. “These last couple of years have been very trying,” she says. Also, they have two young girls competing for their attention as well. “We want to be engaged and be able to enjoy them while they still think we’re cool.” W WILMAmag.com

October Events Oct 1st: Yard Doggs and The Chrome Gnomb Food Truck, 7pm - 9pm Oct 3rd: 420 Yoga, 12pm -1pm Oct 8th: Jeff Glover 7-9 with Chef John, 6pm - 9pm Oct 10th: 420 Yoga, 12pm -1pm Oct 15th: Jeremy Mathews 7-9 with Chef John, 6pm - 9pm Oct 17th: 420 Yoga, 12pm -1pm Oct 21st: Open Mic Night, 6pm - 9pm Oct 22nd: Claudia Crook 7-9 with Chef John, 6pm - 9pm Oct 24th and 31st: 420 Yoga, 12pm -1pm *Dates may be subject to change. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram to stay up to date on our events!

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photo c/o Redefined Fitness Studio

WORKOUTS REDEFINED

LAGREE APPROACH BRINGS FULL-BODY CONDITIONING

by MEGHAN CORBETT photo by MICHAEL CLINE SPENCER

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ith countless options to attain goals and surpass expectations, for many people, it takes a unique method that will not get monotonous over time. SARAH DIAB is the owner and founder of Redefined Fitness Studio in Wilmington, which specializes in the Lagree Method. The high-intensity, low-impact workout combines methods of cardiovascular exercise and resistance training. The workout blends the body-sculpting ideas of traditional Pilates with strength training and cardio. “Starting as a young girl, I was always involved in some type of activity, wheth-

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er it was playing soccer in the yard or on a team, running around playing tag with my brothers, or playing church basketball,” Diab says. “In my lifetime, I have taken thousands of workout classes all around the country of all different kinds,” she says. “Whenever we planned a vacation, I researched studios in the area looking for new methods.” This is how Diab was introduced to numerous styles of instructors and styles of working out and how she discovered the Lagree Method on a trip to California. “I always say the Lagree Method is intensely therapeutic,” she says. “It redefined my entire outlook of working out. I went from thinking the only way to get a good sweat in was moving as quickly as possible to being completely humbled by a method that was all about being slow.” Diab says the Lagree Method has redefined her mind and body in so many ways, and that is what she wanted to do for others in Wilmington. Located on Wrightsville Avenue, Redefined Fitness Studio welcomes everyone, no matter what level of fitness one currently is at or hopes to achieve. Each class lasts for 50 minutes, with 45 minutes of continuous exercise and five minutes of cool down. “The Lagree Method encompasses strength, endurance, core, cardio, flexibility, and balance in every move,” Diab says. “It provides an intense workout without the impact some high-intensity training


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verything old is new again,” as the saying goes. Chances are what you donned in high school is making its way back, if it hasn’t already. Enter modern prepster: The key to freshening up this look is all in the attitude. The pieces themselves may echo something familiar but aim to mix bright and bold with subtle and classic. So, grab your flashiest headband a la Blair Waldorf and get ready for your own reboot, private school style. If you’ve read the handbook, you already know that the blazer and the button-down shirt are the foundations of prep-dom. The reboot: Blazers lean towards boxy cuts, while button-downs get an upgrade with ruffles or high collars. Bonus points for rockin’ bicycle short bottoms. Cardigans and sweater vests also make a comeback. The reboot: Look for more blingy buttons or brighter colors and patterns. And instead of khakis (yawn), pair with a "vleather" skirt or oversize shorts. And finally, no outfit is complete without the shoes. Loafers, Mary Janes, and mules are once again in heavy rotation. The boot. And the reboot: Color, color, color. Put down that oxblood and pick up the yellow! Expect chunkier heels and platforms, as well as embellishments like big tassels, buckles, and even faux fur. When in doubt, remember the wise words of Serena: “People don’t tell you who you are, you tell them.” W

GOSSIP

GIRLS WILMAmag.com

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STYLE


“Let the food speak for itself” - Chip Pridgen Chef Chip Pridgen is back in charge and working his culinary mastery! Chip’s return also brings back his take on seafood and southern cuisine. We can’t wait to welcome you back. Call (910) 777-2363 for reservations. Hours Lunch: Tues-Fri 11 AM-2 PM Dinner: Thurs 5-8 PM Brunch: Weekends 10 AM-12 PM Illustration by Haley Branner

CAMCafe.org 3201 South 17th Street Wilmington, NC 28412 (910) 777-2363

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BA&SH Ckost BLAZER, Citizens of Humanity Kayla SHIRT in optic white, Citizens of Humanity Charlotte straight PANTS in oblivion, Gucci SUNGLASSES, Freda Salvador Keen MULES, and Eliot Signet gold RING and Edie Chain NECKLACE by Merewif, all available from Oliver Clothing

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Rails Jac BLAZER, Vanessa TOP by Mille in black, biker SHORTS (stylist’s own), Gucci SUNGLASSES, Freda Salvador Ace lace-up BOOTS, and Alana large dome hoop EARRINGS by Loeffler Randell, all available from Oliver Clothing

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BA&SH Baylor CARDIGAN in ecru, AGoldE recycled leather SHORTS in detox, Gia tall BOOTS by Loeffler Randall (page 15), and Ann BAG by Anine Bing in black, all available from Oliver Clothing

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MODEL: Sydney Brainard (Directions USA) HAIR & MAKEUP: Claire Svensson, Delphine + James Salon

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Wilmington November 6

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OCTOBER 2021

Presenting Sponsor: Proud Media Partner:


Meet this year’s Women to Watch. Congratulations to the 2021 WILMA’s Women to Watch Awards finalists. They represent leaders in their fields and community. Read more about the thirty-six women on the following pages to learn more about why the judges selected them out of hundreds of nominations and applications that came in this year. In this issue, we introduce this year’s finalists in arts, business, education, health, nonprofit/volunteer, public service, and rising star. The rising star category is the only one with an age description and is open to those under thirty. The women will be honored at this year’s awards event October 23 where the winners also will be announced. For more on the finalists, go to our website at WILMAmag.com.

The Judging Process Each year, WILMA opens up the nominations process for the Women to Watch Awards during the summer. Our judging panel – made up of leaders who sit on the Women to Watch Leadership Initiative’s advisory board as well as outside guests – met to pick the finalists and winners in each of the seven categories. WILMA would like to thank the judges for volunteering their time and expertise on the awards.

The Judges

photos by Chris Brehmer

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Wanda Coley

Alexis Hunter

Deloris Rhodes

Donna Esteves

Kendall Hurt

Kelly Schaudt

Chrissy Hoskins

Ruth Ravitz Smith

Sheri Shaw

Kristy Hubard

Justine Reel

Karen Weaver

(Judges who were nominated for the awards did not sit in on deliberations for the categories in which they were nominated.)

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ARTS

For more about the finalists, go to WILMAmag.com

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TR I STA BANFIE LD

Digital Department Head M o rv i l A d ve r t i s i n g + D e s i g n

Trista Banfield has been an invaluable asset to Morvil Advertising + Design since 2013. She has been leading the Morvil digital department and growing the company’s

ER I KA E DWARDS & KR I STI RAY

Co-Founders and Executive Producers, Honey Head Films

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n 2016, Kristi Ray and Erika Edwards started Honey Head Films, an award-winning, boutique production company “on a mission to level the playing field for underrepresented cast, crew, and characters in the film industry,” according to the duo.

HEATHE R FRE E MAN Owner Queens Coast Surface Art

H

eather Freeman started her business in 2019, tapping into her passion to give back to animals in need by creating functional pieces

TI F FA NY MACHLE R Founder of Art by Nugget Owner/Curator of 11oh9

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iffany Machler, who also goes by Nugget, has made a mark around town in various ways: on colorful murals on the sides of buildings, with a piece in the “Black Lives Do

G EO RGIA MASTROIE NI

Director of Outreach and Family Engagement, Cameron Art Museum

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eorgia Mastroieni, who is in charge of outreach and family engagement at the Cameron Art Museum, strengthens the ties between the art museum and the WILMAMAG.com

presence in the digital advertising industry locally and regionally. Utilizing her skillset in the creative arts as well as her technical expertise has brought a new level of quality to the Southeastern region’s digital marketing firm. Banfield graduated from the University of Tennessee with a BFA in graphic design and

has been featured in the Ewing Gallery, The Emporium, and the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. She has been part of the leadership for Cape Fear Women in Technology (CFWIT) for over five years and has organized the first ILM Tech-Con event in 2020 and the Cape Fear Region Women’s Summit in 2021.

In their company, women hold key roles of cinematographer, director, writer, producer, and editor. They created a Honey Head Mentorship Program for aspiring middle-school female filmmakers and are launching an all-girls summer camp called Shoot Like a Girl to prepare female-identifying teens for careers in film production. This year, they are participating in Genesis Block’s accelerator program for minority- and women-owned companies,

during which they have worked on the newest branch of their company, Honey Head Studios, which will be the region’s first independent film studio. Honey Head projects have picked up honors at the Hollywood Verge Film Awards and Tryon International Film Festival. They currently are working on a new feature film, A Song for Imogene, set for production in the spring.

of art and other designs. She uses an eco-friendly material as her main medium and locally sourced materials from the earth. She started the company in her garage and joined a few markets while living in Charleston, South Carolina. She brought her work to Wilmington after moving to the Port City in

2020. With markets temporarily closed, Freeman focused on her website and social media. This spring, she started back as a vendor at area markets and regional events. Freeman donates a portion of sales to animal rescue organizations, including The Big Paw Project.

Matter” public art installation, and through her gallery 11oh9 Gallery. The gallery, at 1109 South Third Street, is intended to be a community art hub with classes and event space. Through her work in Genesis Block’s accelerator program, she plans to soon launch Sip n Spray, pairing drinks and spray paint

practice and techniques. “The thing that I am most proud of and that I think is most relevant is that I’m helping bring recognition and access to street art,” she says. “Sip n Spray will be an efficient vehicle to do that, and I’m especially conscious of how I can get women and minorities involved.”

community. She leads CAM’s education committee and connects to the Wilmington Housing Authority, The Harrelson Center, New Hanover County Schools, and other community organizations. She oversees the Arts Subcommittee of the New Hanover County Resiliency Task Force and has recently joined the board of

DREAMS of Wilmington. Mastroieni led the museum’s Connections Program for those living with Alzheimer’s and dementia for years and was responsible for branching it out to people of all ages with disabilities. She also is a guardian ad litem volunteer child advocate. OCTOBER 2021

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BUSINESS

For more about the finalists, go to WILMAmag.com

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MICHELLE PATRICIA CATTS SVP of Nuclear Programs GE-Hitachi

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ichelle Catts, senior vice president of Nuclear Programs at GE-Hitachi, has over eighteen years of managerial and technical expertise in nuclear regulatory affairs. She currently provides overall direction for oversight at GEH including

C HA KEMA C L I NTON - QUINTANA VP of Inclusive Small Business Live Oak Bank

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hakema Clinton-Quintana is vice president of Inclusive Small Business at Live Oak Bank, where she leads the inclusive small business center. She focuses on strengthen-

C HR I STI FE RRE TTI Owner/Executive Chef Pine Valley Market

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hristi Ferretti and her wife, Kathy Webb-Ferretti, moved to Wilmington in 2003 to buy Pine Valley Market, a café, gourmet market, and catering business off

WENDY FLETCHER-HARDEE President & CEO Atlantic Coast Trucking, Inc.

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registered nurse, Wendy Fletcher-Hardee switched careers from health care to help care for her grandmother who had cancer and help her grandfather in the

A SHL EY LOMBOY

Global Information Security Manager Optical Fiber & Cable Corning Inc.

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shley Lomboy is the global information security manager at Corning Optical Fiber and Cable, leader of the Corning Native American Council, and member of the Corning Optical Communica-

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quality, regulatory affairs, organizational effectiveness, and oversight of environmental health and safety. She manages a multimillion-dollar budget and a twenty-eight-member organization. Catts previously worked for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, where she held positions including as a nuclear reactor inspector stationed at

nuclear power plants, working up to policy advisor to the presidential-appointed NRC chairman. Catts holds a B.S. in nuclear engineering from North Carolina State University and is currently working on her MBA at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. She is a board member for Smart Start New Hanover County.

ing and supporting inclusive small business growth in communities and verticals through research, job creation programs, capital allocation, mentorship, and programming. Clinton-Quintana has nineteen years of banking experience and has a degree in business management from Strayer University in Herndon, Virginia. Her background includes

work in the areas of foreclosure, real estate short sales, loss mitigation, relationship management, and compliance. Clinton-Quintana currently serves on the board of directors for three nonprofit organizations, including treasurer of Voyage Wilmington; treasurer of Red, Black, & Love Inc.; and board chair for The OOPS Foundation.

South College Road. Over the years, it has grown its business footprint substantially while also making an impact on the community. Ferretti has been an advocate of the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina. She worked with chef José Andrés’ World Central Kitchen to help serve over 20,000 meals a day

in Wilmington in the days after Hurricane Florence hit and turned Pine Valley Market into a satellite disaster relief kitchen. At Girls Leadership Academy of Wilmington, she not only donates her time on the charter school’s chef fundraising events but also works with students in its culinary arts lab.

trucking business. She started her own business with Atlantic Truck Brokers Inc in 2004 and Atlantic Coast Trucking Inc. in 2006. Outside the industry, she opened Atlantic Mulch & Stone in 2019. She has served on the board of the North Carolina Defense Business Association, been nominated for

Small Business of the Year in 2017 and 2019, and was inducted into the North Carolina Women’s Business Owners Hall of Fame in 2021, among other honors. She is vice chair of the Greater Topsail Island Chamber of Commerce and sits on the Jacksonville Onslow Economic Development board.

tions Diversity Council. Lomboy is a member of the Lower Cape Fear YWCA’s executive board of directors. She is a member of the Waccamaw Siouan Tribe and works closely with her tribe and community to improve access by developing educational programming and other initiatives. She founded the Waccamaw Siouan STEM Studio and recently worked

with the YWCA to spearhead the Red Dress Project, a public exhibit in New York and North Carolina to bring awareness to missing and murdered Indigenous women. She has been a leader in the information security profession for twenty years working with multiple Fortune 500 companies.

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EDUCATION

For more about the finalists, go to WILMAmag.com

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ONYA GARDNER

De an of C o n t in u in g E d u c at io n and Work fo rc e D evelo p m en t B runsw ick Co m m u n it y Co llege

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Brunswick County native, Onya Gardner sees her work in the context of breaking generational poverty through education, credentials, and real-world skills. She helps students with education, tutor-

ANGELA POLLOCK

Dire ctor o f D evelo p m en t a n d He ad of S c h o o l, O A S I S N C

Angela Pollock graduated from the University of North Carolina Wilmington in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in adapted special education and then worked as a classroom teacher for the New

NARCISA PRICOPE Profe ssor U NCW

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arcisa Pricope is a professor of geography and geospatial sciences at UNCW. Pricope founded UNCW’s Geospatial Intelligence program, making it one of fewer than 20 schools nationally to receive

SHERI SHAW

A ssistant D ean fo r S t u den t Succe ss U NCW

Sheri Shaw is a bridge builder. In her UNCW role, she is responsible for translating the mission of student success initiatives to enhance the educational experience of students enrolled or interested in majors under the UNCW College

MELISSA WHITE

Deve lopm en t D irec t o r Thalian H all Cen t er fo r t h e Pe rform in g A rt s I n c.

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ike most performance venues, Thalian Hall had a challenging time last year navigating closures during the pandemic. Despite the tumultuWILMAMAG.com

ing, workforce development, and certifications and has an eye toward recruiting potential students who have barriers to employment. Some of those ways include reaching rural communities to share scholarships information through publications and social media or connecting students to employers at the Brunswick County Home Builders Association

meetings. Gardner has helped the Brunswick Community College Foundation apply for local grants. Through her efforts, workforce development students have access to more than $200,000 in scholarship funding. Gardner also serves as an assistant coach with BCC’s women’s basketball team, mentoring student-athletes in that role as well.

Hanover County school system. Pollock also received a graduate degree in public administration from UNCW. She is a founding member of the Cape Fear Enrichment Program, a nonprofit that provides real-life opportunities for adults with disabilities and is the social spoke leader for the organization. In 2013, she started the annual I Am

Beautiful Fashion Show, a fashion show fundraiser featuring individuals with disabilities. At OASIS NC, Pollock is an administrator but interacts with students on a personal level daily. She has created outlets to let students find their niches and grow their confidence, including a film festival where students’ films are shown at the movie theater.

accreditation from the United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation. Along with USGIF and colleagues at nine other U.S. institutions of higher learning, she was awarded a $5 million contract from the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency to supply training and career development courses. One of only a few

Fulbright scholars to hold tenure at UNCW, Pricope has led the awarding of numerous grant and research projects supporting climate change and social impacts globally. The author of over forty peer-reviewed publications, Pricope’s expertise focuses on land change science, water resources, and climate change.

of Health and Human Services. Shaw was also appointed the interim coordinator for the BRIDGE program, a campus-wide initiative to recruit, retain, and support minority students pursuing undergraduate degrees. Shaw is an entrepreneur and influencer. She co-founded Three Ladies in Wilmington to connect Black professionals in the area and moderates a podcast, Black Woman Working. Shaw is a member

of the Links Inc. and Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Inc. Additionally, she serves as the co-chair for the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce African American Business Council and board member for the North Carolina Community College Foundation, YWCA Lower Cape Fear, Willie Stargell Foundation, Leadership North Carolina, and WILMA’s Women to Watch Advisory Board.

ous time, Melissa White increased the advocacy and membership for Thalian Hall to its highest level ever. White is an advocate for arts education, fundraising for the Piped Piper Theatre children’s programming for first- and second-grade New Hanover County students. “Melissa

has been so integral to the outreach of Thalian Hall,” says Shannon Sandlin, immediate past president of Thalian’s board. “She is a recognizable face at Thalian Hall, welcoming all volunteers, donors, and theater partners with enthusiasm and always a hand to lend and support.” OCTOBER 2021

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HEALTH

For more about the finalists, go to WILMAmag.com

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BRITTANY BRADSHAW Nurse Man ag er The Pe diat ric Cen t er

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rittany Bradshaw first began working at The Pediatric Center as a CNA. She went back to school while still working to become a registered nurse and assumed the charge nurse

KRISTINA CLEMMONS

A ssistant D irec t o r o f Bru n s w ic k C ounty, C o a s t a l Ho rizo n s Cen t er

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ristina Clemmons has played a key role in helping expand the delivery of mental health services in Brunswick County. Coastal Horizons Center’s office there had a staff of 15 a decade ago and now has over

CLAIRE CORBETT

Dire ctor P erfo rm an c e Exce lle nc e, N HR M C

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laire Corbett has worked for NHRMC for nineteen years. During that time, she has been a driving force behind the hospital’s award-winning stroke program as well as several award-winning

ANGELA LAGO

C linical Nu t rit io n M an a ger NHRMC

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ngela Lago has ten years of experience in health care management and twenty years of experience in providing clinical nutrition support in acute- and long-term health care and rehabilitation facilities as a registered dietitian. In the fall of

LAURA PICA

B ehavioral Health Clinical Manager MedNorth Health Center

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aura Pica is a licensed clinical social worker at MedNorth Health Center, a federally qualified clinic that offers a range of services to low-income, uninsured, and under-insured patients of all ages WILMAMAG.com

rule with her new position. Now she is a Duke University student, working toward a pediatric nurse practitioner degree and plans to become a provider for the practice when she graduates. Bradshaw’s grandmother also was a nurse at The Pediatric Center, a practice in Wilmington since 1967. “Brittany has walked with our family through

more medical traumas than any family should have to endure,” says one family Bradshaw has worked with. “She’s been by our side the entire time. She’s always been there to talk to, to cry to, to trust, to hug, and to literally hold my hand when things were scariest. We wouldn’t have survived the past three years without her.”

40 employees as programming has been added such as school-based therapy in Brunswick and Columbus counties, for example. The growth of services for children has led to Coastal Horizons renting additional office space to meet the demands. Clemmons also has become a trainer of several evidence-based treatment models. She also is an

active member of the Juvenile Crime Prevention Council in Brunswick County. While Clemmons is dedicated to her growth, she is also dedicated to the growth and success of others. This is seen, according to those who work with her, through the success of those seeking counseling as well as the success of those she supervises.

cardiology initiatives. In her current role as director of clinical excellence, Corbett leads a program that brings best practices to the bedside to improve outcomes for patients. The North Carolina Healthcare Association this year honored Corbett for her work in leading NHRMC’s COVID-19 vaccination rollout and efforts. She and a colleague led

a team that quickly established a clinic for vaccine distribution in the then-shuttered movie theater at The Pointe at Barclay. In only thirty-six days at the site, over 21,000 people were vaccinated. That idea was replicated in five other theaters including two in Europe. NHRMC has administered more than 100,000 vaccines in the community.

2020, she started a website and blog called The Mental Wellness Dietician (angelalagonutrition.com) focused on women’s gut health and mental wellness to help normalize the conversation around mental wellness and to teach women holistic ways to improve the way they feel and function using nutrition, lifestyle changes, and targeted supplementation. She co-led

an initiative around the prevention of aspiration in the acute inpatient setting, work that has been published and presented at a national conference. And she is working with a physician colleague on an initiative to improve the overall care for morbidly obese patients who come to the hospital by reducing clinical variations of their care.

and backgrounds. Pica specializes in therapy and case management for Spanish-speaking patients. She also is trained in treating perinatal mood and anxiety disorders for pregnant and post-partum women. Pica and other health center staff often partner with First-Year Cape Fear, an organization dedicated to eliminating racial disparities in

birth outcomes to provide resources, referrals, and direct services to women of color. She serves on the New Hanover County Senior Resource Center’s board and the Red Cross Cape Fear Chapter’s board. Pica also finds time to mentor other young professionals through virtual coaching and panel talks. OCTOBER 2021

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NONPROFIT -

VOLUNTEER

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MONICA CAISON

Director and Founder CUE Center for Missing Persons

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n 1994, Monica Caison founded the nonprofit Community United Effort, also known as (CUE) Center for Missing Persons. The organization is focused on finding the miss-

KATELYN MATTOX Program Director NourishNC

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hrough her work with NourishNC, Katelyn Mattox makes an impact on the community by helping provide food to children who are underserved and food insecure. When schools closed last year be-

JHANIQUA PALMER

Director of Outreach Programs YWCA Lower Cape Fear

The YWCA Lower Cape Fear recently promoted Jhaniqua Palmer to be the organization’s director of outreach. She had led the YWCA’s Grandparent Support Network since August 2019, coordinating the con-

RAKHEE PATEL

Adult Substance Use Disorder Services Director Coastal Horizons Center

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n her role with Coastal Horizons Center, Rakhee Patel has allowed for an increase in substance use programming of more than 130

FRANCHESCA RAMIREZ

MDT Coordinator and Advocate Supervisor, The Carousel Center

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ranchesca Ramirez graduated with her master’s degree while working full time at The Carousel Center and is currently enrolled in a doctorate program. As the MDT coordinator, Ramirez leads the WILMAMAG.com

ing, advocating for the cause, and supporting the families left behind. Based in Wilmington, the organization works nationally and has helped over 12,000 families. CUE is entirely funded by donations and staffed by volunteers nationwide. Caison takes no salary, and families are never charged for services. “In cases of the

missing there is an overwhelming silence; absent is the voice of the victim and the silent cry for help of those left behind,” Caison says. CUE Centers national programs include the On the Road to Remember Tour, the National Missing Persons conference, State Outreach Coordinators, and Safe and Found safety program.

cause of the pandemic, Mattox, the NourishNC team, and the nonprofit’s small army of volunteers worked to ensure kids who depend on food while in school still had access to meals. She collaborated with other companies and agencies to get free learning kits, community resources, books, and games to families stuck

at home during the shutdowns. Mattox creatively adapted the group’s fundraising event with NourishNC’s Gala-To-Go. Last year, NourishNC fed 1,600 kids a week through its BackPack Program, distributed over 231,000 pounds of fresh food, and served more than 628,000 meals to children in New Hanover County.

tinuum of support for fifty families and over one hundred grandchildren. Palmer last year also took on the role of advocacy and racial justice coordinator. She hosts the YWCA’s monthly Talk On Race series where she speaks with experts about disparities, implicit and explicit bias, and how racism shows up in their work. Palmer also co-created the

YWCA’s 21-Day Racial Equity and Social Justice Challenge. In her new role, Palmer oversees YWCA’s advocacy and racial justice programming, the Grandparent Support Network, and YWCA’s New Choices Economic Empowerment program, which has three programs to empower women in entrepreneurship, job skills, and financial literacy.

new hours a week and reaching an additional one hundred people a week who need early recovery support. Patel has been with Coastal Horizons, a nonprofit provider of services that range from substance abuse and mental health to crisis intervention and more, for over a decade. She is a licensed psychologi-

cal associate, licensed clinical addictions specialist, and certified clinical supervisor. She oversees programming in the tri-county area and over twenty substance use professionals. Patel partnered with UNCW to create a learning collaborative for new graduates to be trained in an evidence-based model.

multi-disciplinary team that works with the Carousel Center. She has successfully built and backs a large advocacy team at The Carousel Center, which supports healing, promotes justice, and fosters resilience in children victimized by physical or sexual abuse. She works with child therapists at the organization

to ensure that families who are receiving therapy services also have strong advocates to support them. Ramirez also provides translation help for Spanish-speaking families – not an area that is part of her job description but something she does on her own time to help families get the support they need. OCTOBER 2021

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PUBLIC SERVICE

THIS CATEGORY RECOGNIZES WOMEN WHO WORK IN THE AREA’S PUBLIC SERVICE SECTOR – PUBLIC SAFETY AGENCIES, LOCAL AND STATE GOVERNMENT, MILITARY, ETC.

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For more about the finalists, go to WILMAmag.com

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OCTOBER 2020


TUFANNA BRADLEY

A ssistant Co u n t y M a n ag er Ne w Hanover Co u n t y

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ufanna Bradley began as assistant county manager in August 2019 and previously served as the county’s community affairs coordinator. Before joining the county, she worked for New Hanover County Schools and as a director for several nonprofit organizations – working

KAYLA CEASAR

Me ntorsh ip P ro gram Fo u n der NHC He al t h an d Hu m an S erv ic es

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ayla Ceasar holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. She is currently completing a social work internship rotation with Novant Health while pursuing her MSW

CARLY HAGG

Finance Direc t o r, Lelan d

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arly Hagg began working in the public sector a few years ago when she started as deputy finance

MARIE PARKER

Exe cutive D irec t o r C ape Fe a r P u blic Transport a t io n A u t h o rit y

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arie Parker came on as Wave Transit’s executive director in December. “Wave Transit was months away from cutting routes over 20% in a community where a need exists … We had some outdated technol-

LEANN PIERCE

Mayor, Ca ro lin a Beac h

LeAnn Pierce made history by being elected the first female mayor of Carolina Beach in November 2019. As she began her term in 2020,

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in public service for more than 20 years in the nonprofit, education, and government sectors. As assistant county manager, she has initially led New Hanover County’s Parks & Gardens Department, North Carolina Cooperative Extension & Arboretum, Public Library, Cape Fear Museum, Soil & Water Conservation District, and Board of Elections. Last summer, she transitioned into overseeing the county’s health

and human services departments, including the consolidated Health and Human Services agency, Senior Resource Center, Community Justice Services, and Veteran Services. She also serves as a liaison with the court system and Trillium Health Resources, both of which receive funding from the county. Bradley played an integral part in the county’s COVID-19 response.

and LCSW to tap into her desire to help children and the community. Ceasar also serves as project lead for the Healthy Literacy Campaign, a grant-funded initiative aimed to increase health literacy within underserved communities that is under the umbrella of the YWCA

Lower Cape Fear. Ceasar, who works for New Hanover County’s Health and Human Services department, where she has developed a mentorship program slated to be implemented in the coming months. Her mentorship program is based on the concept of career mentoring.

officer while simultaneously finishing up her MBA. When the town of Leland’s finance director moved away, Hagg stepped up to apply for the position, which she has held

since. In her role, she is responsible for the Brunswick County town’s budget evaluations. Hagg has cut expenses and reinvested them to help with the town’s growth.

ogy and a lack of data collection that is imperative for planning and decision making in transit,” Parker says about the department’s previous status. Parker, who most previously was general manager of GoRaleigh, has this year worked with Wave Transit board members and city and county officials to pause the service reductions until July 2022. A joint

which also marked 100 years of women’s suffrage and the passage of the 19th Amendment, Pierce faced the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and civil unrest. Her passion to serve was soon realized as she led the town through unchartered wa-

committee formed and is discussing the possibility of a referendum for a quarter-cent sales tax increase to be a dedicated funding source for public transportation. Parker also has entered into a tri-county agreement to be fully funded by the state to develop and lead a new microtransit initiative that starts this month for serving and connecting the three counties.

ters in her first year as mayor. Pierce has served as an elected official for the past eight years. She also serves on the Wilmington Metropolitan Planning Organization (WMPO) and New Hanover County Tourism Development Authority boards.

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THIS CATEGORY IS OPEN TO WOMEN UNDER THE AGE OF THIRTY.

RISING STAR 38

For more about the finalists, go to WILMAmag.com

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OCTOBER 2020


BRIANNA DRENNAN Lab Mana ger Wilm ington Hea lt h

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rianna Drennan oversees all of Wilmington Health’s lab staff, supervising about forty people. When COVID-19 emerged locally,

HAYLEY LUCKADOO

Motivational Speaker & Marketing Coach, Luckadoo Media

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ayley Luckadoo is no stranger to conferences, workshops, and even podcasts where her focus is to empower women. “I’ve motivated and inspired women to leverage

KATY MENNE

C urator of E d u c at io n N.C. Maritime Museum at Southport

I

n her time at the North Carolina Maritime Museum at Southport, Katy Menne has expanded the museum’s vision through community collaborations that take the museum outside the facility’s walls and creating a more inclusive environment

ARELY RAMIREZ - DIAZ Im m igrati o n P a ra leg al He le n Tar o k ic La w

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rely Ramirez-Diaz is an immigration paralegal at Tarokic Law PLLC where she assists the firm with employment-based, naturalization, and removal defense immigration cases. The law office is known for its humanitarian work with victims of violence- and trafficking-based

CIERRA WASHINGTON

Strategic Partnership Coordinator Northside Fo o d Co o p erat ive

Cierra Washington has been involved in several initiatives that involve and support community members in creating solutions to combat health disparities in collaboration with local agencies. Those WILMAMAG.com

she had only been in the position a few months. Drennan quickly had to staff the department to ensure the practice’s COVID testing capabilities could keep up with the demand. Each time tests changed, she ensured that Wilmington Health had the highest

standard of testing and that testing was implemented safely. Drennan earned a degree in laboratory science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill because she is fascinated by medicine and the impact labs have on overall health.

their failures, chase their audacious dreams, and step into who they want to be,” says Luckadoo, whose podcast is called Females on Fire (femalesonfirepodcast.com). “There are millions of small business owners and marketing coaches in the world, and there are thousands of motivational speakers and women

trying to elevate other women. I think what sets me apart is the work I’m doing to bridge the gap between those things.” Through her Females on Fire podcast, Luckadoo has built a community and an all-in-one platform for educational training and inspiration in both business and personal development.

within the building. In addition to teaching programs, she has also written two major exhibits, numerous digital, and one mini temporary exhibit. She spearheaded an effort that made the museum the first Certified Autism Center in North Carolina in 2020. She is actively involved with the Brunswick County Local Interagency Coordinating Council, the Southeastern Museum’s

Conference Equity and Inclusion Action Team, and the North Carolina Museums Council, among other organizations. Last year, she received the Emerging Museum Professionals Award from the Southeastern Museum Conference. She is a National Geographic-certified educator and is currently pursuing the environmental educator certification through the state.

visas. Ramirez-Diaz’s bilingual abilities and cultural competency give her the skills needed to help Spanish-speaking and Latinx families who seek immigration services at the firm. She has experience in private and public sectors working to aid and advance individuals and their families. In 2019, she received a sponsorship to attend the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute. In 2018, she was selected to attend

the United Nations Association Leadership Summit. Since her time as an undergraduate student at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, Ramirez-Diaz has been a mentor to Latinx youth through UNCW’s Centro Hispano and other organizations. She has supported several students through their transition from high school to college and then from college to career.

initiatives have included the creation of a community garden next to the Hemenway Community Center where Voyage youth participants can learn about growing their own food; the facilitation of the Southeastern NC Health Educators Network; piloting a Bonner Pipeline Project, which provides funding and applied learning opportunities for students seeking a degree in a health-relat-

ed field; and establishing several programs to increase engagement and grow memberships within the Northside Food Cooperative (see more about the co-op on page 55). She has been recognized several times for her achievements. Washington also is a committee member of the Northside Health and Wellbeing Improvement Team. OCTOBER 2021

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by LAURA MOORE photos by MADELINE GRAY

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photos c/o Swahili Coast

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ARTISAN APPROACH

ILMA’s Women to Watch Awards are presented to women making a difference in the Cape Fear area. With the honor, winners are given a special bracelet designed by a local artist.

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This year, the designer, CAROLINE FISHER, is using her partnership with artisans in East Africa to create a design to celebrate the mission of “empowerment, positivity, and community.” “This is a cool way to celebrate women who are doing amazing things here in Wilmington and in East Africa,” Fisher says. “We are excited that we get to celebrate women in this way.” Swahili Coast Cooperative is a 100-percent worker-owned cooperative that Fisher and her husband helped start in East Africa that operates as “a marketing arm within the United States.” Their Swahili Coast store on Front Street in Wilmington and their most recent location in Asheville sell the handcrafted goods, and their Wilmington warehouse sells the goods wholesale around the country to help grow the business. As creative director, Fisher speaks

with artisans daily via WhatsApp, sharing designs, pictures, and videos. “In terms of construction, they are masters. They are always thrilled that folks in the U.S. are interested and appreciative of the work they do,” Fisher says. “We help them to make money for the beautiful work they do, and Americans are typically down to pay a little extra, so it helps.” Fisher helps to create the designs based on styles that are popular in the United States. Before the pandemic, Fisher would spend a great deal of time in Africa helping create samples alongside the artisans. “Usually, we would go three times a year. We just went in June and July. My husband and I hit it at that magical time when it seemed like COVID was waning,” Fisher says. “It was lovely to see them and work alongside people again.” One of Fisher’s latest initiatives

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through Swahili Coast is selling handcrafted face masks, and for each one purchased, one is donated to someone in Tanzania. According to their website, “Face masks are handmade by artisans in Tanzania of 100% cotton kitenge cloth, a wax print cloth traditional to East Africa.” With the recent addition of the store in Asheville, the goal of the Swahili Coast coop is to continue to expand its reach. That means expanding the artisans’ skill sets and what they can make and offer in order to grow. Recently the co-op has expanded into textiles including dresses and shirts, and the artisans hired someone to teach them how to make their own cloth for their clothing lines. Sandals, home goods such as baskets, wooden serving bowls, and spoons, as well as jewelry and totes are available in stores and online at swahilicoastdesign.com. Most of the goods are sold in small independent boutiques that Fisher describes as “unique and want to tell the stories of our artisans.” They have expanded to sell in certain Anthropologie locations. “It is a collaborative process. Folks we work with choose to work with us every day. We recognize that as Americans with privilege, we are on uneven ground,” Fisher says. “Most of our artisans have just a middle-school education, so we are giving back a lot of the power to keep each other honest and even the playing field.” Part of the Swahili Coast philosophy is that “Empowered Women, Empower Women.” “We hope to employ more women with gainful employment,” Fisher says. “That is the biggest, most important thing that it continues to be worker-owned and artisan-led. It is not our role to tell them what they need to do. They have agency as far as what they’d like to do and how to grow.” W

THE AWARD Each year, WILMA selects a custom bracelet that serves as the award for the Women to Watch Awards winners. The pieces, this year crafted by artisans in the Swahili Coast Cooperative, will be unveiled and presented to the winners at the October 23 awards event.


WOMEN IN BUSINESS

Faison G. Sutton Real Estate Transactions & Development Agribusiness

Frances Y. Trask (Of Counsel) Real Estate Transactions & Development

Amanda K. Miars Wills, Trusts, Estate Planning & Estate Administration Business Law WILMA’S LEADERSHIP Graduate of WILMA’s INSTITUTE Leadership Institute

Andrea “Andi” M. Van Trigt Real Estate Transactions & Development Agribusiness

Lauren E. Williams Trusts, Estate Planning & Estate Administration Business Law Labor & Employment Law

Litigation WILMA’S LEADERSHIP Graduate of WILMA’s INSTITUTE Leadership Institute

(910) 763-2426 | WWW.MURCHISONTAYLOR.COM 1979 EASTWOOD ROAD, SUITE 101, WILMINGTON, NC 28403 · 12 NORTH 5TH AVE, WILMINGTON, NC 28401

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PAGE TURNER

Papercut Books gives readers a calm, spooky space

by LAURA MOORE | photo by TERAH WILSON

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OLLY BADER worked for her father in the family business for years until they had to close and sell that business. During the stressful months of negotiating the sale, Bader began to “read obsessively” to take her mind off her troubles. Once the business sold, Bader explains she had “nothing to do, so ta-da!” Papercut Books was born. Bader took her knowledge of running a major corporation and created the business of her dreams. The new independent bookstore opened at the end of July on the corner of Market and Second streets in downtown Wilmington. Bader says she designed the space to be a very calm place to be. “This is the business that is the opposite of a corporation,” Bader says. “I have three employees versus the sixty I had at the other one.” The cozy space, with its packed black bookcases and dark Victorian floral walls, reflects the “morbid curiosity” Bader hopes to exhibit. “I don’t think I had another option. This is me. Spooky floral is kind of the vibe,” Bader describes. “Flowers overcrowding a graveyard is my aesthetic.” With tattoos that reflect that visual scattered across her body, Bader, a mother of two small children, proudly represents herself as the “Wednesday Addams of Booksellers,” as her husband describes her. Bader debated whether to make Papercut Books “commercially normal,” but instead, aimed to take her sister’s advice to create the “place we would have wanted to go when we were little.” Growing up, Bader describes having “a pretty feral childhood,” raised on 25 acres in Hampstead with nothing to do. Bader feels it gave her an excellent start, affording her the time to become a big reader, but she admits she did not love it at the time. As an adult, Bader misses the quiet, restful spaces of her childhood, and Papercut Books tries to provide a soothing space for customers. The idea of “low-voiced art,” a quiet space for people who do not like to be

WILMAMAG.com

overwhelmed, inspired Bader’s mood of the store to create “a calm environment to fight the stress of life,” she says. “It is meant to be restorative instead of everything draining you all the time,” Bader explains. The collection of both new and used books casts a wide net for potential customer interests and pocketbooks. Bader is able to keep the selections fresh with tons of new releases, a wide selection of hard-to-find vintage mysteries, and everything in-between. Papercut Books also offers a free bookshelf on Second Street.

Papercut Books will be starting a book club called the “Papercult,” which is currently in development. “I am on top of what people are into, and I am able to curate more and say, ‘Here is what I think will be the best of the best,’” Bader says. “People want that version where it’s local, it’s us. The vibe of the store is they know what they’re getting, and we don’t pretend.” W Holly Bader’s profile appeared in a recent WILMA Downtime email. To sign up for daily WILMA emails, go to WILMAmag. com.

Be a Heart Walk Hero 2021 Cape Fear Heart Walk October 30th UNCW Veterans Hall ww.capefearncheartwalk.org “Pop Up” Start Line Walk Anytime 9am-Noon By participating in the Heart Walk, you’re joining Heart Walk Heroes from across the nation raising funds for lifesaving science. This year you can decide your path. The American Heart Association will have a “pop-up” start line or you can choose to “walk where you are.” The Heart Walk will be offering maximum flexibility but remains focused on improving health in the Cape Fear and raising lifesaving funds. Contact ashley.miller@heart.org for more information. Signature Sponsor

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DIGNITY MEMORIAL

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TECHNOLOGY BRINGING PEOPLE TOGETHER

ith the rise of the Delta variant impeding travel and in-person gatherings for those who are at high risk of infection, the use of advanced technology as a means of connecting people has never been more important. Even before the pandemic, people were realizing that technology can be a way to feel connected with family and friends, while avoiding the inconveniences of physical travel, such as high ticket prices, endless lines, traffic congestion, delays and cancellations. Looking for a silver lining can be a difficult proposition sometimes, but if there is anything positive to be found as a result of this horrible pandemic, it is that many of us have become more comfortable using technology than we ever thought possible. Whether chatting through Facetime or meeting virtually

through Zoom or Slack, technology has bridged the gap between us and allowed for a sense of connection that may not have been possible. The use of technology to facilitate a connection has carried over to almost every industry, including funeral homes. In a traditional funeral, friends and family would all be physically present to move through the steps of the service. Virtual funerals allow attendees to log onto computer software that connects them to the funeral planner and the other invited members. Using this platform can be a viable substitute for an in-person experience, since everyone can see each other and, if appropriate, their deceased loved one. Attendees have the ability to share stories, listen and remember the memories left behind, with no need to be in the same location.

Most of the details for a funeral arrangement can now be planned online as well. Speaking with the Dignity Memorial team over the phone or through email is a convenient way to make the planning process easier. With our dedicated staff and state-of-the-art website, which offers tips for pre-planning and resources for planning an immediate need, we make connecting remotely an easy, positive experience. Of course, we know that there is no such thing as a “one-size-fits-all” approach to making funeral preparations. Understanding that some families may not want a virtual funeral, Dignity Memorial will continue to offer traditional funeral planning/services and in-person visitations. Providing the option for a virtual funeral is just a small example of the consistent work that we do to adapt our service offerings to the needs of our clients.

Virtual funerals can allow for the anxiety some feel when gathering in groups to melt away, and an added benefit is that they can be recorded and watched at a later time. Dignity Memorial works to provide the best support and services for each of their clients, whether virtually or in-person. For more information, call 910-799-1686 or visit www. dignitymemorial.com. Michael Higgins is Sales Manager for Dignity Memorial®, which cares for more than 300,000 families each year through its network of more than 2,000 providers throughout North America. Learn more at www.DignityMemorial.com, or call Greenlawn Memorial Park, Oleander Memorial Gardens and Coble Funeral and Cremation Services at Greenlawn Memorial Park, (910) 799-1686.

910.799.1686 | DIGNITYMEMORIAL.COM

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HOTWORX

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WILMINGTON HOTWORX TAKES CENTER STAGE

ith so many new people relocating to Wilmington, it can sometimes feel as if our little corner of the world is already in the global spotlight. Our general manager Anthony Sciscento recently added to the attention that our city receives on the international stage, by winning a companywide competition to see who would become the next Virtual Personal Trainer (VPT). A self-described fitness junkie who has a degree in Exercise Physiology, Sciscento was also invited to compete in was one of 40 that made it past the initial round. This group was then narrowed down to 15 competitors. The group of 15, including Sciscento, was then invited to the annual franchise convention in San Antonio to participate in the final round of the 2021 Virtual Instructor Competition. The field was narrowed down to seven of the original 15. Of the 15, two Virtual Personal Trainers were selected to instruct both in the FX Zone (weighted area) and at home,

as well as to be a part of the other five instructors selected to be Virtual Instructors leading sessions on screen. The VPTs have the ability to do both. The final round began with a combine that included oneon-one interviews and short, choreographed isometric style workouts. Each competitor was evaluated on mental readiness, technical form, and workout queuing by judges Stephen Smith, CEO and Hotworx creator; Kasie Banks, executive marketing director; Laura Valenti, marketing directorfranchise performance; Carla Pesono, assistant marketing director; and Victoria Price, marketing consultant and franchisee. The following day, convention attendees were invited to participate in an outdoor workout where the top 15 competitors led a portion of the workout to showcase their instructing skills. During the competition, Sciscento was asked a number of interview questions while also being required to stay in the plank position for five minutes. “This was definitely

one of the most challenging portions of the entire competition,” laughed Sciscento. He added that all of the competitors were incredibly qualified, with a wide range of experience and skills. “It was a huge honor for me to be selected as one of only two Virtual Personal Trainers worldwide, as the people I competed against were very talented. The fact that I am a manager was an advantage for me, as it has helped me to understand what motivates and drives our membership,” explained Sciscento. After the competition was over, convention attendees voted on their favorites. “It really helps if you believe in what you’re doing, and you have a love for the workout here at HOTWORX. Training here provides a sustainable way to exercise, lose weight and increase muscle toning while minimizing exposure to pain,” added Sciscento. A former competitive swimmer, Sciscento gained exposure to the physiological benefits of training in a hot

910.832.9679 | HOTWORX.NET 48 48

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environment after a shoulder injury forced him out of the water. He quickly realized that training in an infrared sauna can boost the effectiveness of any workout. Also, the time spent with recovery can be reduced because infrared heating warms from the inside out, and the warm environment allows for a deeper, more productive stretching of the muscles. The effect is compounded by the fact that training with infrared heating delivers more endorphins compared to traditional methods. This is basically just a result of the infrared workout being a more efficient, intense option than other training programs. Now that Sciscento is a winner of such a prestigious competition, it is not hyperbole to state the Wilmington studio provides workout enthusiasts with a chance to train with the best. If that were not enough, we have also purchased a number of brand-new rowing machines. To find out more about HOTWORX or schedule your first session, visit www.hotworx.net or call 910832-9679.


MARKRAFT CABINETS

SIMPLE WAYS TO ADD STORAGE SPACE TO A HOME

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hether your house is large or small, chances are you’ve wished for more storage space. Luckily, creating more storage space is a fairly easy fix; one that can be accomplished without the need to add an outbuilding or build an addition. A platform-style storage bed can be a great way to add storage. These are not only attractive but some can even have up to 23 cubic feet of storage, which can go a long way in a bedroom. For those who care about their home’s aesthetic value, adding a wood storage chest could be a good idea. These can eliminate clutter and the need for plastic storage bins; they can also be fairly easy to build or inexpensive to purchase. Integrating a mudroom

storage bench into your home’s entry is a convenient way to hide shoes, umbrellas and backpacks. Whether purchasing or choosing to have someone build it, a mudroom bench can create a more welcoming entry for your home and encourage visitors to take their shoes off. An ottoman can add to the appeal of any family room, especially when it has storage space. These can be a great place to store blankets, remotes, books, DVDs and games when not in use. A garden storage bench can be a great choice for a patio or screened in porch. Aside from providing a comfortable place to stop and remove dirty shoes, a garden storage bench can be a handy place to store dirty tools, just make sure to find one with a metal screen for the bottom, as these are perfect for

storing wet items. Installing a knee-wall dresser into the wall of a bonus room may be one of the coolest ideas yet. By recessing a chest of drawers into an unused space, a lot of storage can be added without a scrap of wasted floor space. Knee walls can also be perfect for installing a built-in entertainment center. One easy storage solution is to simply add adjustable wallmounted shelves. These can be found at any major home improvement center and are relatively easy to install. Having a bookcase built-in to surround a picture window, and including a window seat storage bench, is another great way to add storage without sacrificing aesthetic value. These can be created with a fairly low investment of cost and effort. There are many other great

ways to increase the amount of storage space inside your home, from dog food serving stations, built-in bookcases and garage cabinets, to built-in alcoves, storage cabinets, tool sheds, work benches and bar cabinets. For a practical insight on how to add storage space to your home, or a complimentary consultation about how to maximize your space, call or email us today. President and General Manager Cee Edwards and his team of talented designers invites you to visit Markraft’s Design Studio, 2705 Castle Creek Lane, just off Castle Hayne Road. Markraft’s professional kitchen and bath designers consult by appointment.

910.793.0202 | MARKRAFT.COM

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MCKEE HOMES

HOMEBUYING IN 2021

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f you have become frustrated trying to find a new home in this crazy 2021 real estate market, you are not alone. A number of factors have combined to create the “perfect storm” seller’s market leaving homebuyers scrambling to submit bids on the shrinking available inventory of homes for sale. New Construction With less than two months’ supply of available homes on the market, many homebuyers are looking at new construction as an alternative to pre-owned homes. Homebuilders are constantly developing new communities and homesites, and putting new homes on the market, adding to the available inventory of homes. Between the unpredictable price of materials and land coupled with supply-chain issues caused by the pandemic, many homebuilders are taking homes off the market, or not

listing them until their homes are far enough along that the builder’s cost can be accurately assessed. This has led to even more homebuyer frustration with buyers scrambling to find new homes in the areas they want to live. Solutions For Homebuyers To help meet the increasing demand for new homes and help their buyers meet their closing date, many homebuilders are temporarily changing how they do business. Homes and homesites in new communities are under limitedrelease restrictions as builders can’t accurately predict how much the homes will cost them to build a few months down the road. To solve some of these common issues, McKee Homes is starting to choose specific floorplans, options and upgrades for each available homesite in most of our new and upcoming communities

and phases. That way the materials can be ordered far enough in advance to get the home completed without major delays. This allows our homebuyers to feel confident they can close and move into their new homes according to the preset dates and schedules set when the contract is signed. Find A New Home McKee Homes has quick move-in home inventory in select communities in their Raleigh, Wilmington, Pinehurst and Fayetteville area markets. With new communities and phases in existing communities opening soon, we are doing our best to help our homebuyers find the home of their dreams in this crazy housing market. Our award-winning designs are built with quality in mind and backed by our 2-10 homeowner’s warranty. Our warranty includes 10 YEARS of structural warranty, 2 YEARS of distribution systems such as

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electrical, HVAC and plumbing, and 1 YEAR workmanship and materials defects. Financing Your New Home In the current real estate market, being able to quickly get prequalified and know you can obtain a mortgage by a certain date can be the difference between owning a new home or missing out on the home of your dreams. Our in-house lender, Vision Lending Services, was created to do all that and more for McKee Homes’ homebuyers. The Vision Lending team is available seven days a week and makes sure that every step of the home buying process is simple, easy to understand and as transparent as possible. Brenna started working for McKee Homes back in 2016 as a New Home Sales Consultant and was recently promoted to the Wilmington Area Sales Manager!


PATHFINDER WEALTH CONSULTING

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ith the K-shaped recovery being a hallmark of the pandemic, and the effects of COVID having vastly different ramifications for the poor and the wealthy, many people, women in particular¹, are increasingly curious about how to share their resources in taxefficient ways. Charitable giving isn't just for folks who have buildings etched with their name, they're also for generous, everyday folks who want to better the world around them. After almost two years of a seemingly nonstop negative news cycle, there are great people in our community who find themselves eager to help. There are three groups of givers – modest givers, retirees, and those with highlyappreciated securities – and some considerations each should heed: 1. The CARES Act created an above-the-line charitable deduction for cash donations.

GIVING STRATEGICALLY So, more modest givers who don't itemize their deductions should utilize the $300 deduction - it's up to $600 for married couples. 2. For retirees, the options expand. Folks aged 70½ or older can gift up to $100,000 from their IRAs each year regardless of if they take the standard deduction or itemize. If you're charitably inclined, this is a smart way to reduce future required minimum distributions (RMDs), lower current and future taxable income, and preserve other assets for beneficiaries which are not subject to the new SECURE Act's 10-year distribution rule2. 3. Gifting appreciated stock is a fantastic option for folks with concentrated and/or highly appreciated assets. Stocks held in a taxable account, that would otherwise be subject to capital gains taxes if sold, can instead be donated to charitable organizations. This strategy is beneficial for all parties - most importantly, the

charity receives the full benefit of the gift (charities don't pay taxes), the donor reduces risk in their portfolio and reduces potential tax liability, and the donation can be deducted. In fact, for 2021, taxpayers can deduct charitable donations of up to 100% of their adjusted gross incomes. There are a few limitations with this allowance, so be sure to work with a financial professional for guidance on your personal situation. 4. Using donor-advised funds (DAFs) is an excellent way to "bunch" charitable donations at once even if you're not ready to hand the donation over to organizations yet. You can deduct 100% of your donation (cash or securities) to the DAF in one year and make the contributions over several subsequent years. These tend to be great methods of giving for folks with a large taxable event in one year, such as the sale of a business or a sizeable

inheritance. Looking back on the ramifications of the pandemic and all the other needs around the world, the necessity for resources is great. For people who want to make a difference in a smart way but don't know where to start, the CERTIFIED

FINANCIAL PLANNERTM

Professionals at Pathfinder Wealth Consulting can help. We'll take inventory of what you have, helping prioritize your needs and the needs of your family first, and then help you think creatively about ways to support the people and causes that resonate with you. If you want to leave a legacy in your community, give us a call at (910) 793-0616 or visit our website at www.pwcpath.com. We are here to guide you forward. This Insights article is contributed by Kayla Willliford Johnson, Financial Planning Associate at Pathfinder Wealth Consulting.

910.793.0616 | PWCPATH.COM 4018 OLEANDER DRIVE, SUITE 102, WILMINGTON, NC 28403

Advisory services offered through Commonwealth Financial Network®, a Registered Investment Advisor. WILMAMAG. com WILMAmag.com

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PLANTATION VILLAGE CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT: THE SECRET TO OUR SUCCESS

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LIVING WELL:

Program led by Living Well Director Marci Sherman.

s a non-profit community, we at Plantation Village re-invest our revenue into the services and amenities that provide our residents with the highest quality maintenance free lifestyle available in our area. It’s just one of the reasons we are #AllAboutYou! David Bowie once said, “aging is an extraordinary process where you become the person you always should have been” and we like to believe that our lifestyle affords that opportunity to older adults who no longer want the responsibilities that come with homeownership. Whether it is by joining that book club, re-discovering a lost (or new!) passion for art, making regular dates with friends for coffee or wine or dabbling in our myriad of exercise opportunities, Plantation Village allows people to pursue their passions. As an outgrowth of the organizational structure here at Plantation Village, we’re excited to announce our new “Living Well” program led by Living Well Director Marci Sherman. Wellness is a lifelong pursuit and Marci’s new focus is designing programming that highlights the 8 dimensions of wellness: physical, emotional, social, intellectual, environmental, spiritual, vocational, and financial. Marci holds a master’s degree in social work and brings 25 years

1.866.825.3806 | PLANTATIONVILLAGERC.COM

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professional experience from the nonprofit sector in Long Island, New York. “I wanted to find new work that would fulfill me in a new way,” she said. “I found that immediately upon arriving at PV there were a myriad of opportunities to meet the needs of our residents in a meaningful way. “For example, I’ve started a new book club for people with visual impairments who were looking for alternative options but didn’t know where to start.” We feel very fortunate to have found someone with passion, expertise, and enthusiasm and cannot wait to see what the future holds as our residents continue to #KeepOnLovingLife and now with Marci’s help! To schedule a tour and learn more about what Plantation Village has to offer, visit www.PlantationVillageRC.com. For updates on Facebook, visit www. facebook.com/PlantationVillageRC. Anna Cook is Marketing Coordinator at Plantation Village, a non-profit continuing care retirement community that offers independent living on a 56-acre campus in Porters Neck, minutes from downtown Wilmington and area beaches. Residents enjoy first-class services in a wide variety of home styles, from one- and two-bedroom apartments to cottage homes and two-bedroom villas. Plantation Village is managed by Life Care Services™, the nation’s second-largest senior care management company.


keep it local WILMA’S

SPONSORS’ CONTENT

ART BY GABRIEL LEHMAN

Gabriel is a humanitarian by nature and uses his gifts to enhance the lives of people across the country. From donating paintings for charity auctions to muraling homeless shelters and church nurseries, if he can help, he will. He sees the light all around him and brings this light into his work and, in turn, into the hearts of those who view it. Find Gabriel’s art at The Gallery of Fine Art in Mayfaire Town Center. Schedule an appointment online at GalleryofFineArtNC.com to visit the gallery at 970 Inspiration Dr., Wilmington, NC 28405 in Mayfaire Town Center.

SPOOKY SEASON + FALL FAVORITES

Find one of a kind art and decor at Port City Peddler, from velvet pumpkins and spooky table settings, to cute fall accessories. Their multivendor store is located at 6213 Market Street, and open 7 days a week. They have a large selection of new arrivals, from candles to vintage furniture, decor and more. Visit their website at PortCityPeddler.com.

HAND BEADED JEWELRY

Accessorize your everyday with this exquisitely handbeaded jewelry. From necklaces to earrings, these simple, boho-chic accessories will elevate any outfit with their luminous color, distinctive design, and bold style. Find this unique jewelry at Big Sky Shop + Studio or online at www.bigskyshoponline.com!

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E OFF

COOLING

SOUTH FRONT TO HOST NEW EVENT SERIES by MEGHAN CORBETT photo by TERAH WILSON

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veryone could use some “really cool stuff” to look forward to right about now.

Cool Wilmington, an event management and production company in Wilmington and the “event arm” of the Downtown Business Alliance, is hosting Really Cool Stuff, a series of themed events planned to take place in the South Front neighborhood. The first marketplace and social gathering is scheduled for this month – after a delay from last year’s intended kickoff. “These fun events will feature a wide variety of unique, vetted vendors and entertainment, designed to highlight the vibrant culture and atmosphere of the area. Each event will be different with revolving vendors, street decorations, and ‘day-of ’ surprises,” organizers say. “In 2019, we spoke with all of the business owners in that area about the idea, and

OCTOBER 2021

they were very excited and interested in participating,” event organizer ANDRELLA CHRISTOPHER says. “The first Really Cool Stuff was scheduled to take place in April 2020. Of course, we had to cancel due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and eventually, we had to cancel the events scheduled for June 2020 and October 2020. Everything was in place to kick off in April 2021, or so we hoped.” Now finally, she says, October 9 is marked for the inaugural event. “I’d say at least two-thirds of the original vendors that signed on have stuck with us through all the ups and downs, reschedules, and cancellations,” Christopher says. “We are really excited to finally put on the first event for them.” Perhaps the coolest part of these events is the theme changes planned for each one. “Each Really Cool Stuff event will have a different theme and activities, to keep it fresh and interesting, so as not to be just another artisan market,” Christopher says. “The theme for this (month’s) Really Cool Stuff event is a Masquerade & Costume Gala. We’ve inviting all of the vendors, businesses, and public to get in the spirit, to convert the event/area into something playful and unique.” Plans include DJ sets by Gravity Records, live music by Mark Sinnis and 825, a fashion show, artist demos at TheArtWorks, and Day of the Dead-inspired face painting for kids and adults. Dog owners can flaunt their pets in costumes, with other surprises in the works. “We hope,” Christopher says, “people will check out the businesses in the area, find something special that they can’t live without from the vendors, and have a great time. We ask that everyone follows the (COVID-19) guidelines set forth by the state and act responsibly.” The next one is slated for December 4 – “It will be a holiday event with a ‘twist’ and will also be in the South Front district,” Christopher says, adding that the 2022 dates will spotlight different downtown Wilmington neighborhoods with themed events. W

REALLY COOL STUFF OCTOBER 9, 11 A.M.-6 P.M. SOUTH SECOND STREET, BETWEEN GREENFIELD AND WILLARD STREETS INFO: REALLYCOOLSTUFFNC.COM


5

TAKE

by CHRISTINE HENNESSEY photo by TERAH WILSON

CIERRA WASHINGTON is the strategic outreach and partnership coordinator for the Northside Food Cooperative, an organization working to build a community-owned cooperative grocery store in the Northside of downtown Wilmington. Over the past few months, she’s spent the majority of her time launching Frankie’s Outdoor Market and the co-op’s pilot store, both located at 1019 Princess Street, in addition to building relationships with other organizations, sharing the co-op’s work on social media, and looking for new ways to connect with the Northside community. WHY DOES THE NORTHSIDE NEED A COMMUNITY-OWNED COOPERATIVE GROCERY STORE? “Prior to 1898, the Northside of Wilmington was a thriving Black community, home to over fifty food-related businesses. After the 1898 coup, most of those Black-owned businesses disappeared. About thirty-five years ago, the only grocery store in the Northside closed down, and the area has been a food desert ever since, further disenfranchising this historically Black community. Over the years, a number of nonprofits and organizations have made efforts to fix this, but none have been successful. So instead of asking the city to do it, some nonprofit organizations and community members came together and decided to bring a cooperative grocery store to the neighborhood.” HOW AND WHY DID YOU GET INVOLVED WITH THE NORTHSIDE FOOD CO-OP? “I graduated from UNCW in 2019 and was hired as a program associate by the Center for Healthy Communities, which is part of the College of Health and Human Services. One of our responsibilities was to be a bridge between the university and the community, focusing not just on public health, but on neighborhood health. I joined the grocery store task force, met Northside Food Co-op folks, and immediately got fired up about it. As part of my job, my supervisor let me continue attending the co-op meetings. I got more and more involved, started working for the co-op part time, and then joined the team full time in April 2021.” WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF BECOMING AN OWNER OF THE NORTHSIDE FOOD CO-OP? “Anyone can become an owner for a one-time payment of $100, which is an easy way to support our mission and be a part of the solution. As an owner, you’re also eligible to be on the board of directors, join committees, and help plan the startup and implementation of the store. It’s a way to be a part of the greater movement to bring food justice to Wilmington.” WHAT HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST LESSON YOU’VE LEARNED THROUGH THE CO-OP SO FAR? “I didn’t study any of this in school, so I’m learning and advocating as I go. Learning looks different when you leave college, but you still have to invest in it. Also, collaboration is key. Working together rather than duplicating efforts, not always thinking you need to be the expert, being open to feedback, realizing you can’t be everything to everyone, and remembering to take time to rest. Burnout is a serious risk.” SPEAKING OF REST, WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE MEAL OR RESTAURANT IN WILMINGTON? “I love Block Taco, which is connected to Satellite. Their fried mushroom taco is my favorite, and I’m not even a vegetarian. I can easily eat two or three at a time.”W CIERRA WASHINGTON’s full profile will appear in an upcoming WILMA Roundup email. To sign up for daily WILMA emails, go to WILMAmag.com.

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MODELS by TIM BASS illustration by MARK WEBER Tim Bass is coordinator of UNCW’s bachelor of fine arts program in creative writing.

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At the Women to Watch awards, you’ll find me watching from the back, measuring my self-worth. It’s a tough room for it. For one thing, the other men present will be attired in serious duds – suits crafted by Italians, watches that not only tell time but also flash the headlines and monitor the heart rate (for them, it’s always in the optimum range), and shoes shiny as a supernova. Those guys go to appointments at salons, where they get their full heads of hair cultivated by quaff artists called Esmerelda and Georges. They drink cocktails named after people: Gibson, Negroni, Rob Roy. Me? Some of my clothes didn’t have labels when they were donated to the thrift store where I bought them. My watch, like my shoes, bears scuffs from some previous owner’s carelessness. I get my vanishing hair buzzed at a strip mall by a stylist named First Available. I’m just guessing here, but I think Tom Collins is a professional bowler. Next to the other guys, I won’t compare so favorably. But none of us will measure up to the women at this event. They’re a power pack, the embodiment of what it takes to get Big Things done in business, education, medicine, the arts, community service, and everything else that keeps the lights on and the world spinning. The women to watch will be introduced, their many accomplishments summarized, and one by one we men in the room will slink into our shirt collars, aware that we’re being shown up by these warrior women with their vast intelligence, high-definition focus, limitless compassion, and natural leadership skills. If the

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other guys and I tried to walk a mile in their treacherous shoes, we’d end up in orthopedic surgery. Sure, we might spot a proud grin on some man who’s there with one of the women, but that’s success by association. It doesn’t count. How do these super-successful women do it? I have no idea. Their vision makes me look near-sighted. Their drive leaves me in the dust. Next to their doggedness, I feel catatonic. Plus, a bunch of them are mothers. I’m doing all I can to keep a peace lily alive. By the end of the Women to Watch evening, I’ll know one thing: In this room with these power women, my wisest move is to stand back here, watch, and stay out of their way. And afterward, I need to stop on my way home and buy the best candy I can get my hands on. Soon, the trick-or-treaters will show up with their bags out, and this awards ceremony tells me to give them the good stuff because on Halloween night the future will stand on my front porch. That witch who can barely reach the doorbell? She might grow up to be the best teacher her students ever have, mesmerizing them with classroom magic. The diminutive mermaid could become a marine biologist. The pint-sized princess might turn that wand into a judge’s gavel. The little one looking proud in a costume that’s just too weird for description, well, she could be destined for the arts. And that 3-foot-tall Wonder Woman? She might be the one who gets us out of the next pandemic. They can make anything happen. Just watch.